Hologram Stephen Hawking visits Australia with TelePresence

A hologram of professor Stephen Hawking graced the stage of the Sydney Opera House over the weekend using Cisco's TelePresence systems.

Professor Stephen Hawking gave his first live speeches in Australia at the Sydney Opera House over the weekend, appearing as a 3D hologram using Cisco's TelePresence technology.

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(Image: Prudence Upton/Supplied)

Hawking, the world-renowned physicist and cosmologist, appeared on stage using DVE screen technology and Cisco TelePresence technology on Saturday and Sunday evenings to discuss his life growing up, his vast contributions to science, the origins of the universe, and the recent film made about his life, The Theory of Everything.

Hawking said it was not the first time he had appeared as a hologram, referencing his cameo role as himself in Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing poker alongside Commander Data, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton.

Cisco's vice president of corporate technology Maciej Kranz told ZDNet that the company had been working for a couple of months with the University of New South Wales and the Opera House to make the event come together.

"We wanted to not only just show the futuristic technology, but also use the same technology we use in production," he said.

The TelePresence units used for the holographic display were no different to those used by governments and companies across the globe.

"What we effectively did is place several TelePresence units in Cambridge in his office, and projected his image and his talk from a couple of different angles," he said.

"These video streams were synchronised and went to our central server in San Jose, and then from there, they were projected into the TelePresence unit here in Sydney.

"The same technology our customers are using we are using for this broadcast. The only piece that is unique and special is the actual projection of the image on stage."

The use of multiple TelePresence cameras allowed the company to create the 3D holographic image on stage, he said.

"Basically, we just have three TelePresence systems that are broadcasting his image from three different angles concurrently. They are all being bridged in one bridging location," he said.

"We just put these three systems in one location to feed into the 3D holographic image projection."